G is for Gabriel, Peter Gabriel

As it turns out, I have TWO copies of Peter Gabriel’s third album in German, on vinyl.

Somehow, I was largely unaware of the music of the “progressive rock” group Genesis, which was formed in the late 1960s, until its 1974 album. The title track to The Lamb Lies Down On Broadway [listen] got a bit of airplay in this area. Shortly after this album, lead singer Peter Gabriel left the group over personal and artistic differences, with Phil Collins taking over the lead vocals of Genesis. Gabriel would eventually initiate a solo career.

His first album (1977) was called Peter Gabriel and featured the song Solsbury Hill [listen], which was about his departure from Genesis, as well as the first version of Here Comes the Flood, which Gabriel claimed was overproduced; from the version on his greatest hits album, he may have been correct.

His second, less successful album from 1978, was also called Peter Gabriel, and featured D.I.Y. Fans dubbed the first collection Car and the second, Scratch, based on the album cover features.

But it was his 1980 third album, called Peter Gabriel, referred to as Melt, that really captivated my attention. The first song, “Intruder”, “featured the reverse-gated, cymbal-less drum kit sound which [Phil] Collins would also use on his single “In the Air Tonight”…. Gabriel had requested that his drummers use no cymbals in the album’s sessions, and when he heard the result he asked Collins to play a simple pattern for several minutes, then built ‘Intruder’ around it.” Another great song is “I Don’t Remember” – “I have no memory of anything at all.

The hit was Games Without Frontiers [listen]; this version is pitched higher with the treble is adjusted. I must admit that I heard the lyrics “Jeux sans frontieres” as “She’s so funky, yeah.” Oy.

This album was also realized in German; “alternate takes of some of the instruments seem to have been used occasionally, and the mix is somewhat different.”

As it turns out, I have TWO copies of this German-language album on vinyl. When I worked at FantaCo in the early 1980s, the boss gave each of us a copy of the album, but, for reasons now lost to me, one of my colleagues was angry about the gift, didn’t want it, and gave it to me. So, one of my LPs is still factory-sealed.

Here are Spiel ohne grenzen [listen] (“Games without frontiers” in German) and Biko [listen]. The latter song is about Stephen Biko, “a noted anti-apartheid activist in South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s,” who died in police custody in 1977. Gabriel’s song was one of several about Biko but among the most significant.

Peter Gabriel’s fourth album, from 1982, was called, you guessed it, Peter Gabriel. However, his US distributor slapped the title Security on it. The big hit was Shock the Monkey [listen]. This album was also released in German.

The next year, Peter Gabriel Plays Live came out, filled with previously released songs plus the minor hit I Go Swimming.

Peter Gabriel would go on to even greater commercial success, but that’s another tale.

ABC Wednesday – Round 9